Honeybees are mysteriously vanishing. The phenomenon has been reported in nearly half of the U.S. states, as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Greece and Taiwan.
In some areas, 100% of the bees fly away in search of pollen and nectar, never to return, disappearing without a trace. The event now has an official name: Colony Collapse Disorder.
CCD is no small matter. Many fruits and vegetables need bees to pollinate them. One-third of the fruits, vegetables and nuts in our food supply directly relate to the work of honeybees.
All sorts of explanations, from pesticide spraying and falling queen-bee fertility to cell-phone pollution (they're alleged to interfere with bee radar) and fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, have been offered as possible causes.
Whether this is a world disaster or not, we at Stockpickr are tracking the
, a list of stocks that could benefit from CCD.
First off, look for plants that don't require pollination from bees. Corn and soybeans fit the bill. The obvious play here is
Archer Daniels Midland
, the "supermarket to the world."
Archer Daniels operates both a corn-processing and an oilseed-processing division, deriving much of its profit from helping corn and soybean farmers around the world. I guess it's possible the company will have to convert its corn-based ethanol operations back to food manufacturing should the disappearance of honeybees affect our foody supply.
and the hedge fund arm of private equity fund
are among the large institutional investors who own a stake in Archer Daniels.
Another idea is to look for companies that create new types of seeds that may not require bee pollination. The bet here is
Monsanto uses genomics and advanced plant technology around the world to produce new, patentable -- and profitable -- plants. The company is based in St. Louis, but it operates worldwide, including in India. Of course, you should watch developments closely should Monsanto's genetic engineering turn out to be the cause of the bee problem.
Monsanto is a favorite at
-- two funds that spun out of superfund Tiger Management. Tiger, one of the most successful funds ever, was run by investor Julian Robertson for decades before disbanding in 2001.
Many of the foods you know and love may vanish. To make up for the deficiency, turn to the food chemists at
International Flavors & Fragrances
. Oranges, lemons and peaches may be gone, but fear not. The IFF food chemists will be able to recreate that fruity smell, even if the food is soy-based.
(ABMIX), a fund run by Thyra Zerhusen with an annual return of 17.4%, counts IFF among its holdings.
However, if the Biblical prophecy angle turns out to be correct, buy the
streetTracks Gold ETF
on the way to Armageddon.
Gold is supposed to be a hedge against total disaster. StreetTracks Gold's price is pegged, roughly, at one-tenth of the spot gold price, which is sure to increase astronomically in the case of the End Times.
, John Succo's multistrategy hedge fund, likes streetTracks Gold. In fact, Vicis looks like it's making a general bet on rising oil, a retiring baby boomer class and the general decline of western civilization.
You can track my recommendations -- and other stocks that might profit from the decline of the bess -- at the
Also, if you haven't checked it out yet, please try out our newest feature,
. You can ask questions and answer them, and you can see who are the
as well as catch
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
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